Chapter 8: Work Teams and Groups

March 22, 2010

Strategies of Effective New Product Team leaders by Avan R. Jassawalla and Hemant C. Sashittal:

This is a great article that outlines great strategies of effective leadership based on a study they did on new product development “NPD” processes in ten high-technology firms, most of which use a cross-functional team work: “The transformation in team leaders’ thinking; learning, and doing which lies at the root of effective leadership, effective team work, and accelerated NPD processes” the authors pointed out. Below, please see the key points I took away from this article, key components that I consider fundamental in building a cohesive, loyal, and innovative cross-functional teamwork yet effective skills that will give an organizations a competitive advantage nowadays.

  • Effective New Product Team Leaders: give their organization a competitive advantage by increasing product innovation and product completion timetable to deliver marketable products faster and cheaper.
  • Organic Structure: effective new product team leaders are able of instilling and implementing a team work spirit, open communication, and an atmosphere of trust; respect, and collaborative decision-making among Managers-Team-Individuals: (Triangle for Managing the New Team Environment), and better yet of seeking out the shared organizational purpose.  
  • Adaptability: effective team leaders’ objectives and strategies are formative because they change over time in response to new environmental cues and new learning which transform the action of the NPD processes and their teams (especially in a technology field where a competitive advantage could be imitable).
  • New Team Environment versus Old Work Environment: effective team leaders have a multi-cultural perspective; they are able to have people with different backgrounds and with different viewpoints on their teams yet manage that great diversity of talent in pro of their organizational goal, which will eventually allow them and their team members to develop confidence, more innovation and an ability to take risks which is key in the learning and development process. With this being said, team leaders really get the most out of their teams.
  • Healthy and Positive Communication: effective team leaders should not be withholding important information about what is going on, but rather they need to constantly inform  and give feedback to subordinates about the operation results, their performance, etc. so that they both are on the same page.  In fact, this creates a better working relationship between boss-subordinate (two-way communication system) and commitment from both parties to their new product initiatives.
  • Facilitators: leaders really need to facilitate the appropriate tools to their team members so they do their job effectively. They also need to coach them and mentor them as opposed to controlling them or monitoring them by loosening control and the resources with their team so they make a decision that is best for the team.   
  • Senior Management “SM”: effective new product team leaders should have the backing of SM as these latter really need to allocate resources to support all the multiple departments involved in the new product initiatives not just R&D as well as giving access to the same information so they avoid conflict by having entrenched functional silos in place.
  • Double-loop learning: is clearly exhibited on the team leaders’ ability and eagerness to learn and adopt new behaviors and change, and not resisting learning or changing which could lead to repeatedly make the same mistakes. Better yet, the leaders must be open to their team discussions and even challenge them and not adopting a condescending attitude; that would be unethical.  

In conclusion, effective new product team leaders really are a fundamental part in the organization’s effectiveness as they help build a cohesive, loyal, and innovative cross-functional team work from inside out.

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